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November 18 - Antibiotic Awareness Day

ITQB reseachers look into antibiotic resistance in different pathogens

Oeiras, 18.11.2013

Today, Europe celebrates the Antibiotic Awareness Day. This annual European public health initiative takes place on 18 November to raise awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and prudent antibiotic use.

The latest data confirms that across the European Union the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria is increasing and that antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health. At ITQB, several research groups look into antibiotic resistance in different pathogens aiming to find solutions to fight this global problem.

For example, studied at ITQB for several years, Staphylococcus aureus is a well known bacterium, frequently found in the human respiratory track. While not always pathogenic, disease-associated strains cause a range of infection from minor skin infections to sepsis. Antibiotic resistance strains (MRSA) are especially worrisome in hospitals, as agents for opportunistic infections, but these strains are also increasingly found in the community, something that worries public health authorities.

Another main cause of hospital-acquired disease is the bacterium Clostridium difficile, presently the main cause of disease associated with antibiotic therapy in adults. Also studied at ITQB, this largely overlooked bacterium is the cause of an intestinal disease whose symptoms range from mild diarrhea to severe, potentially lethal inflammatory lesions. Antibiotic-resistant strains of C. difficile are on the rise. The ability of this bacterium to form highly resilient spores makes it even harder to treat.

ITQB researchers also direct their attention to the effect of antibiotics on other pathogens, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus), Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis.

As researchers worldwide try to understand and solve the problem of antibiotic resistance, how can the rest of us help? Well, prudent use of antibiotics can help stop resistant bacteria from developing and help keep antibiotics effective for the use of future generations. So please remember and help spread the word: take antibiotics responsibly!





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